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Albuquerque Journal 1.28.18

Read online: Exhibit explores human-caused and natural environmental changes

A UNM alumna, Rubenstein has long been drawn to concepts of home, place and the environment. The show marks the first time her series “Photosynthesis,” “Volcano Cycle” and “Eden in Iraq” have been grouped in a major photographic exhibition. “Photosynthesis” focuses on the natural cycle of the seasons and our dependence on trees. “Volcano Cycle” documents the active volcanoes of the Indonesia to explore environmental change on a non-human scale. “Eden in Iraq” examines environmental devastation and renewal at the site of the biblical Eden.

– Kathaleen Roberts / Journal Staff Writer

29 Jan 2018

Exhibition Opening February 3rd, Albuquerque NM





SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 3:00 – 6:00 PM


The UNM Art Museum and the University of New Mexico College of Fine Arts invite you to celebrate the opening of the exhibition:
Meridel Rubenstein, Eden Turned on Its Side.
The evening will feature music by Muni Kulasinghe and food by My Sweet Basil.
3 – 4 pm: Conversation between Curator Shawn Michelle Smith and Artist Meridel Rubenstein, Keller Hall*
4 pm: Book Signing with Artist Meridel Rubenstein, Center for the Arts Lobby
4 – 6 pm: Opening Reception

On view in the Main Gallery
February 2 – June 16, 2018

Meridel Rubenstein, Eden Turned on Its Side is a major photographic artwork comprised of three parts: Photosynthesis, Volcano Cycle, and Eden in Iraq. The work is about human relationships to the environment on the scales of human time, geological time, and mythical time. Photosynthesis focuses on the natural cycle of the seasons and our interdependence on trees for our existence, including the very air we breathe. Volcano Cycle documents the active volcanoes of the Indonesian Ring of Fire to consider ecological change on the non-human scale of deep, geological time. Eden in Iraq explores environmental devastation and renewal at the site of Biblical Eden in Southern Iraq.

This will be the first showing of Meridel Rubenstein, Eden Turned on Its Sidethat includes selections from all three of its component series.


Meridel Rubenstein, who maintains her art studio in Santa Fe, NM, began her professional career in the early 1970s, evolving from a photographer of single photographic images to an artist of extended works and multi-media installations. She has exhibited widely including the Louvre in Paris and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin as well as in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions in the United States.

Her works are in prominent collections including the National Museum of American Art in Washington DC; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ; High Museum, Atlanta, Ga; Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Texas; and San Francisco Museum of Art, California. Meridel Rubenstein is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Since 2007, Rubenstein has held the position of Visiting Associate Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. NTU has supported, in part, production of the Volcano Cycle and Eden in Iraq. Rubenstein was educated at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and did special graduate studies at M.I.T. with the photographer Minor White. She received an M.A. and M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1974 and 1977, where she studied with noted art and photography historians and museum directors Beaumont Newhall and Van Deren Coke.
*Conversation supported by the Allene H. and Walter P. Kleweno Lecture Series Fund

The UNM Art Museum would like to thank Brian Gross Fine Art for their generous support of this exhibition.

16 Jan 2018

Upcoming Exhibitions in New Mexico!

More information about Eden Turned on Its Side at the University of New Mexico Art Museum

More information about Atomic Histories at the New Mexico History Museum

More information about Currents New Media festival

10 Jan 2018

Eden In Iraq Exhibition, National Design Centre Singapore, October 2017

Our collaborative wastewater garden project Eden in Iraq opened at the National Design Centre on October 6th in Singapore. The exhibiton documented thus far our 4-6 year research and design process short of building the wastewater garden. Selections from my photographic and video art accompanied the installation.

My new book Eden Turned on its Side (University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming February 2018), had a pre-publication preview and book signing.

Eden In Iraq is an interdisciplinary, environmental art and design exhibition tracing the evolution of the wastewater remediation project in the marshes of southern Iraq near the historic site of the Garden of Eden.

We used environmental art, design, and wastewater to create a restorative wastewater garden for cultural memory, education, and shared social space. Drawing on Islamic and Mesopotamian traditions originating in this historically and symbolically charged region, the Eden in Iraq Waste Water Garden was designed to be a syncretic container for ecological and cultural restoration.

Our team:

Prof. Meridel Rubenstein – artist/photographer, School of Art, Design, and Media, Nanyang Technological  University, Singapore.

Prof. Peer Sathikh – industrial designer, School of Art, Design, and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Dr. Mark Nelson – environmental engineer, Institute of Ecotechnics (U.K., U.S.).

Dr. Davide Tocchetto-environmental engineer and agronomist, Wastewater Gardens International, Italy.

Prof. Sander van der Leeuw – archaeologist and complexity scientist, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, USA.

Jassim al Asadi –  engineer, Managing Director, Nature Iraq, NGO, Chibaish, southern Iraq.

For more information about the project and photos from the exhibition, click here.

29 Dec 2017

Eden in Iraq Presentation at Arizona State University, Feb 9, 2017

Below is the video of the talk I gave last week at the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University about the Eden in Iraq Project.

A link to watch the Q&A session:

Our team member Sander Van Der Leeuw introduces the talk and leads the discussion.

Most interesting are the questions asked during the discussion and some of Sander’s responses. Most rewarding to me was the response by the audience to the scale of the project and that 5 acres per 7500 people to recycle waste was to them very reasonable. I had been worrying about the size and cost and amount of people benefiting.

Sander pointed out elegantly the benefit of a project that comes from the ground up with locals and local materials used rather than imposed from the outside.

The Arizona State University Museum of Art is interested in taking the exhibition we will present in Singapore next October. (More about this soon).

My adjunct position  at the School of Sustainability was renewed indefinitely and they  are happy to have our project  brought under their umbrella as well.

We’ve finished the Business Plan and fund-raising efforts are beginning.

I had a Skype meeting with the Program director from UNESCO in Iraq  on Monday to  acquaint them with the project and to consider any future  planning we might do together.

I will return to Singapore on March 6th. Essays are now completed for my book and exhibition at the University of New Mexico Fine Art Museum. Eden Turned on its Side and Iraq images  are almost completed. Alan Weisman, author of The World Without US and Countdown has written a fine essay about the Garden of Eden from an environmental and social perspective and curator Dr. Shawn Michelle Smith from the Chicago Art Institute has written a great piece relating the issues in my work to the age of the Anthropocene. 

The book will be ready in time for the Singapore exhibition.

There was an amazing essay by Dexter Filkins about the Mosul dam breaking and flooding Northern Iraq in last months New Yorker that was heavily on my mind. Instead a pipe froze in my house flooding it from end to end. So by day I’ve moved 45 years of art work  to Albuquerque and by night kept writing. My best friend, Ciel Bergman, died just after the flood and another close friend, a next door neighbor, has had a recurrence of her cancer  with not good news. So flanked by water and death in the desert here in New Mexico, the idea of Eden in Iraq has kept me going.

15 Mar 2017

New Mexico Museum of Art, Gallery Talk, Friday August 5, 2016

Peggy Martinez, '64 Chevy Two-Tone, Santa Clara LakeOn Friday, August 5, 2016 at 5:30pm I will be presenting a gallery talk at the New Mexico Museum of Art, to speak about my photo series of the lowriders from 1980, which is currently part of the exhibition Con Cariño: Artists Inspired by Lowriders.

Challenged by a suggestion that lowriders were the true craftsmen of New Mexico, in 1979 photographer Meridel Rubenstein ventured to Española to meet and photograph them. Rubenstein recognized lowriders as fellow artists and says they changed her own approach to making art. Her portraits of lowriders were featured in the Museum of Art’s 1980 exhibition The Lowriders, held outdoors on the Plaza alongside a car show.

4 Aug 2016

Lowriders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico

Irene Maria Jaramillo, Jr. '60 Ford LTD, San Juan PuebloI am pleased to be a part of two Museum shows this Spring through the Fall of 2016. On May 1 the New Mexico History Museum will present Lowriders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico, where several of my Lowrider prints from 1980 will be on exhibit. Photo Curator Daniel Kosharek has pulled together an extensive collection of images by Don Usner, Annie Sahlin, Jack Parsons, Sam Adams, Norman Mauskopf, Dottie Lopez, Gabriela Campos, Meridel Rubenstein and others.

On May 21, the New Mexico Museum of Art will unveil Con Cariño: Artists Inspired by Lowriders, an exhibit (through October 9, 2016) curated by Katherine Ware showing photographs and art inspired by car culture. Ahead of the exhibits, on April 15, the Museum of New Mexico Press will release a companion book featuring essays by Ware and Usner.


4 Aug 2016

FotoFest 2016 Biennial – Changing Circumstances

Rubenstein_Between Heaven and Earth1I am currently exhibiting my prints from the Volcano Cycle at FotoFest 2016 Biennial exhibition- Changing Circumstances from March 12-30.

“These are artists who have engaged the natural world and humanity’s place in that world, over many years,” says 2016 Biennial co-curator Wendy Watriss. “Many of the artworks manifest the artists’ rigorous investigations into science and philosophy.” Featured projects address the anthropocene – climate change; industrialization and urbanization; bio-diversity; water; the use of natural and human resources; human migration; global capital, commerce and consumption; energy production; and waste.

Please visit FotoFest  for more information on the exhibition and events.


20 Mar 2016

Dubai Photo Exhibition International 16-19 March

meridel-rubenstein_1I am honored to be included in the Dubai Photo Exhibition.  An international exhibition that invited curators from all over the world to highlight important photographers throughout history. Natasha Egan, Executive Director, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago was invited to curate on behalf of USA/CANADA.  In this exhibit she presented: “The eight artists in this exhibition, each born between 1895 and 1969 in the United States or Canada, grapple with the conundrums of human experience and interaction, whether personal or societal, and use a range of photographic strategies to represent their concerns and pursue results.”


IMG_6505An installation view of the Low Riders that Natasha Egan chose to exhibit at the Dubai Photo Exhibition.

To see more info on the exhibit visit Dubai Photo Exhibition

19 Mar 2016


30 Angry Tribal Sheiks at Emergency Conference for Restoration of the Marshes, Al Rasheed Hotel, Baghdad, October 5, 2015Meridel Rubenstein

30 Angry Tribal Sheiks at Emergency Conference for Restoration of the Marshes
Al Rasheed Hotel, Baghdad, October 5, 2015, Meridel Rubenstein


After 5 month of 125 F temperatures and withholding of the water by Isis and Turkey to keep the Euphrates and Tigris rivers flowing, people were angry. The marshes are dried out for a 2nd time.

We were invited October 5th and 6th to make a presentation at the Emergency Conference for Restoration of the Marshes in Baghdad which was organized by our partner Nature Iraq and the Development Center for Energy and Water.

In addition to 30 angry Tribal sheiks from the south, 35 NGOS, 11 internationals, and many government officials attended including representatives from the Prime Ministers Office. One of our team members from Italy, Davide Tocchetto, joined me.

We couldn’t have continued our Tier 1 Project without our appearance and networking there.  What became evident to people at the national level is that we  DO have a solution for the ever increasing local sewage problems whether there is drought or not.

We were provided security by the Prime Ministers Office who also waived our visa and transportation fees, and paid our hotel and meals.  (This is a huge relief as Davide and I need to return to Chibaish Dec. 28-January 10th with what little travel money is left.

Our new advocate in the Prime Ministers Office, Dr. Shubbar, was just recently in Singapore working on oil agreements for Singapore wells in Iraq! He knows the oil companies in Iraq and will act as the conduit to them for fundraising for us. He wants us to come back for a January Energy meeting. We will get visas now through his office so they should be quicker to obtain, one of my bigger concerns.

We also connected again with Azzam Alwash, CEO of Nature Iraq  National Office in Sulimanyah, Kurdistan. His new Program Director, Parisian Sarah Hassan, knew nothing of the Project, and now has already lined up two potential donors in Geneva and is looking for a French Umbrella for administration.

Peer and I have given two Eden in Iraq talks at the Contemporary Islamic Art Symposia and exhibition at the National Library October 9th and 17th.. Now we have excellent materials on the influence of Islamic Design in our work. Now I am adding the syncretic influence of Mesopotamian civilization and design on Islamic design. We just finished a new paper for the Cumulus Water and Environmental Design Conference in Mumbai December3-5th. Neither of us can attend but our paper will be published.

We need another year to get our designs completed, ie after our next trip and proto-types are made.  So we’re feeling cautiously optimistic that the garden may see the light of day in the next several years and that the marshes can return to health with renewed government action as a result of the conference.

10 Nov 2015